Environmental justice caucus introduces first bill

By Philip Athey | 09/12/2019 07:13 AM EDT

Members of a bicameral environmental justice task force introduced legislation yesterday that aims to improve access to solar power for low-income households.

Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the "Low-Income Solar Energy Act" in their chamber. Reps. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) are leading a House companion.

The legislation would expand the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by boosting its focus on solar to 25%.


It would instruct the Department of Energy to create financing programs to help low-income people pay for expenses related to installing solar panels.

"All Americans — regardless of whether they have good credit, own a home, or live in [a] multi-family building — deserve to be able to access solar energy," said Duckworth in a statement.

"I’m proud to be introducing this legislation with Senator Booker and Congressman McEachin that would make it easier for low-income Americans to use solar energy and lower their utility bills, which will help our nation reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, combat climate change and decrease air pollution," she added.

The bill is the first from the bicameral caucus created earlier this year to spotlight health problems associated with pollution and how they "disproportionately impact low income communities and communities of color" (E&E News PM, April 22).

"Our country must transition to a clean energy economy and increase access to renewable energies for all Americans," McEachin said in a statement. "It is appropriate that the first bill we have introduced together will increase energy affordability and help protect our planet for future generations."